Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Importance of Property Photos When Selling - Part 1

  In a prior post I ranted about REALTOR® photos and how unnecessary I felt they were from both a business branding perspective but more importantly they serve no real purpose in serving buyer and seller clients. The flip side of this argument is property photos and how important they have become in the marketing and sale of homes and other forms of real estate.

  When I started in real estate 15+ years ago, our MLS® system at the time allowed for a maximum of three photos with each listing.  Those were back in the days when a paper MLS® catalog was still in use by most agents and an Internet based MLS® system was gaining momentum. Subsequently the number of photos was expanded to nine then it jumped to thirty.  Thirty photos is not bad especially when a virtual tour can also be posted to a listing highlighting details of the property even further. As of this posting we are in the final stage of moving to an entirely new MLS® platform which has the capability of holding fifty photos per listing and photos can also be labelled.

Photos often make or break whether a consumer gives serious thought to a particular listing and or actually go to see the property first hand. Not only are the number of photos  important but also the quality. A recent study in the U.S. showed that listings with professional photos got on average 61% more views, yet many REALTORS® seemed more preoccupied with their personal photo versus those for their listing(s) which after all is where the money in this business is made. I know myself that when I go on a listing and see a lack of photos especially of the interior, right away I am suspect of how the property shows in person and typically it's poorly. The more ambitious and astute REALTORS are not only leveraging photos in their listings but they are talking it one step further on social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and others.

  Every house tells a story and photographs play a big role in conveying that story.  Both quality and the quantity of photos comes into play yet too often these are ignored.  Today there is no excuse for poor quality pictures or a lack thereof other than REALTOR® laziness.  Newer smartphones and tablets take good quality photos including panoramas.  Personally I use a Canon DSLR camera, often with a wide angle lens which does a better job of capturing an interior room without any distortion.  In addition a separate flash is a must and often a tripod.  My photo arsenal also includes drone shots which I have had done by a fully licensed and insured professional.  I do own my own drone which I have flown extensively for recreational use but until such time as I am licensed, I am not going to break Transport Canada rules.

  In my next post I will comment on photo quality.  In the meantime, for those of you that may be thinking of selling and are interviewing prospective REALTORS®, make a point of asking them about their use of photos in the listing.  Next to the correct list price, photos are the next most important aspect of successfully marketing your home or other property.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb

  In like a lion out like a lamb is a phrase typically used to describe the transition from winter to spring however it also applies to this year's real estate market across southern Georgian Bay.

  On the heels of record MLS® sales in 2016 when sales volume for the year topped $1 billion, 2017 started off like a lion with record sales, multiple offers and sale prices that were often well over the asking prices of the sellers.  June brought with it a much tamer market with sales in June marking the first time in 40 months when sales for a given month failed to exceed that same month in the prior year.

  Following a relatively slow summer, sales momentum picked up in the fall but not at the same frantic pace that we experienced earlier in the year.  At one point I questioned whether we would top the $1 billion mark again this year but as of November we have.  While MLS® sales activity in November was down 15% from the same month last year to just over $84 million for the month, year-to-date sales now stands at $1.047 million for the year and we have one more month to go.  Again these results do not reflect the sale of new homes and condominiums made by developers which are typically done outside of the MLS® system.

  While MLS® sales dollars have already surprised 2016, clients and others I speak with are surprised to learn that MLS® unit sales are below last year's level.  Through the end of November, 2,279 MLS® sales have been reported, a decrease of 13%  or 344 properties from the first eleven months of 2016 when 2,623 MLS® sales had been completed. 

  MLS® dollar sales in 2017 are being driven by a very strong demand for high-end properties most notably in the $1 to $2 million range where year-to-date sales are up 77% with 106 sales reported this year compared to 60 last year.  We have seen similar results under $1 million as well with sales between $800,000 and $999,999 up 36% for the year.

  As has been the case for the past 12 to 18 months, MLS® listing inventory continues to lag.  As of this posting, MLS® listings for the year are down 11% from one year ago, coinciding with the 12% decrease in MLS® unit sales.  Single family homes sales are down 18% from one year ago.  The Blue Mountains has been the only municipality all year where single family home sales have surpassed last year's results but as of the end of November, that increase has shrunk to just one more sale compared to 2016.  All other area municipalities have and continue to track well below last year with the results being as follows:  Clearview -29%, Collingwood -17%, Grey Highlands -7% Municipality of Meaford -27% and Wasaga Beach -23% .  The lack of available housing inventory has played a key role in the unit sales decreases we have experienced throughout 2017.

  Area condo sales have also softened from earlier in the year.  To the end of November, MLS® condo sales total 503 units for the year compared to 514 last year, a modest decrease of 2%.  MLS® vacant land sales have remained robust in 2017 driven by the fact there has been ample inventory.  Vacant land sales for the year total 332 properties up 9% from the 304 sales reported in 2016.

  Heading into the holiday season, sales in December traditionally start to slow then ramp up again in January.  I predict that in 2018, we will continue to see a market whereby demand exceeds the supply, inventory levels will remain soft and pricing stable.  With changes to the mortgages rules coming in January and  with cooler heads now prevailing, we may not see the crazy pace of sales that we experienced in the first four or five months of 2017 but that's okay.  Speaking both as a consumer and a REALTOR®, excess is never a good thing when it comes to real estate,  Only time will tell what market conditions we will experience in 2018.  The demand for area properties is not expected to diminish, hopefully we will see an increase in housing inventory resulting in more balanced market conditions of everyone. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Collingwood Loses The Enterprise Bulletin Newspaper

   The big news of the day is the news media itself.  Torstar and Postmedia have agreed to a non monetary swap of some 40 newspapers of which all but about five will be shutdown.  What does this mean for our immediate area?  The Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin and the Meaford Express will no longer cease to exist, driving by the Enterprise Bulletin today reflects that the door is already locked.
  For many, this comes as no surprise.  Declining advertising revenues stemming from more and more consumers both searching for and buying products and services online has taken a heavy toll on newspapers overall income.  I remember years ago the Toronto Star having a whole classified section just for cars.  Those ads quickly disappeared as the result of the Auto Trader publication and later  The same scenario has unfolded several times since affecting virtually every type of business I can think of.
  Back in August of 2012 I did a post titled Print Versus Online Advertising. I had attended a real estate conference and sat in on a session pertaining to advertising.  In 2010, online advertising expenditures across the U.S exceeded print advertising.  While this statistic was based on the U.S., Canada would be no different.  Canada has always been one of the global leaders in the adoption of Internet services so to think that print advertising was not already under severe threat in this country is foolish. 
  Real estate has remained one of the last strongholds for print advertising expenditures.  Home sellers are often impressed to see their property advertised in one of the local papers or in one of the many area magazines but the reality is, obtaining a buyer through a print ad is very very rare.  I cannot think of when I last had a call or email inquiry from a print property ad. No matter how nice or how many photos an add may contain, sites like allow for up to 30 photos plus virtual tours.  A postage stamp sized photo(s) with a bit of text in a print ad pales in comparison to how a property can effectively be marketed online and with a global reach versus just a local one.
  Whats broken in the newspaper industry is not the lack of news or the number of potential readers, its the advertising revenue model.  The print news industry needs to figure out how to better attract and monetize online advertising.  Websites such as Facebook and Kijiji offer free advertising but get revenue by selling upgraded ad options on their sites.  In the wake of declining ad revenues newspapers have been forced to increase the cost pf their papers. A couple of weeks ago I picked up a the weekend edition of the Globe and Mail with my groceries, little did I realize it was $6.00.  Never again will I buy a weekend paper.
  While its too bad to see an institution like the Enterprise Bulletin fold, the reality is papers such as these cannot financially sustain themselves by selling printed ad space, technology is a powerful foe and failing to adopt to an ever changing landscape driven by technology no matter what business you are in is a fool's game. 
  What is unnerving is the potential lack of local content in the news that will be available to us covering such things a municipal and community affairs.  Time will tell if the one remaining print newspaper, the Connection will survive in print or will it too face the same fate as these other publications?

Contact Me

Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


Direct: 705-443-1037

Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230


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Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.